Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 15,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 3 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

Read Full Post »


Father,

As the vicissitudes of life have turned against me,

And it seems like nothing but misfortune

Will be in my path for the foreseeable future,

Anxiety and fretful worry fill my days.

When I awaken in the middle of the night,

I am filled with dread and foreboding.

My mind races and my heart churns apprehensively.

Nevertheless, at the deepest level of my being,

A quiet persistent voice tells me to never give up.

When I rise in the morning, I am filled with resolve,

Knowing that this quiet voice came from You.

As the days pass and my pressures increase,

I feel battered and beaten at every turn.

It seems like everything that can go wrong certainly does.

Maintaining a positive outward demeanor,

I remain determined to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be.

I have no other choice but to follow this path.

Despite my resolve, my insides feel numb and crushed,

As pressures from my circumstances intensify,

Weighing me down, relentlessly grinding me to despair.

As I bow my knee and ask for relief,

Which I know can only come from You,

I realize that I have no answers within me.

In the quietness of my heart,

Your voice continues to resonate,

Telling me to never, never give up.

As the weeks turn into months, with no respite from my travails,

Having been abandoned by all who once wished me well,

All that remains are those who desire me harm.

I feel undone, fearing that my heart will break,

But I have no choice but to press forward.

There is no alternative, and I cannot abandon my purpose.

It’s not in my nature to do so, and that will never change.

With that in mind, I bolster myself repeatedly affirming

That I will never give up—never, never, never give up.

Lord, my life is in Your hands, and You alone know

What day my complete restoration will come.

Until that time, I know what I must do.

I must relentlessly press forward

And never, never, never, never give up.

Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. (Hebrews 10:35-36)

Jack Watts, My Story

Read Full Post »


 

Teach me to not be boastful or arrogant,

And let pride be far from me,

Knowing that this too would be my witness,

Pushing those You care about away,

Rather than drawing them near.

Help me be mindful that

Whatever I do—good or bad—

It is a reflection of who You are.

 

Question: Do you believe this is true or not? If you do, does your life attract people to God or push them away? Think about your answer, and be completely honest with yourself and with God.

Much of life has routine to it. Because of this, we become accustomed to having a measure of control over our day-to-day activities. This leads us to believe that we actually do have control. Then, for whatever reason, something happens, which is completely out of our comfort zone. And more often than not, it isn’t something we desire. Then, we can become angry, blaming God for our unpleasant circumstances.

 

Question: Has this been your experience? How angry with God have you become? Are you still angry with Him?

In the early church and in the Scriptures, being called to the ministry meant that a person was summoned to serve others, regardless of how those served might respond. Because the person chosen was serving the Lord, while serving others, fulfillment came by being faithful to God without other worldly aspirations.

Question: React to this statement. Do you believe it is true or not? Should this always be the model, or should something else replace it?

Although our desire for self-vindication may be the most predominant desire in our lives, we must realize this: If we are to be raised up, it will be by the Lord’s hand and not by our own. Our insistence upon self-vindication will end in further anger, bitterness, and resentment—nothing else. Accepting this truth is difficult, but it’s a lesson each abused person needs to learn.

Journal: Write about your need for self-vindication, being completely forthright. By writing about it, you will begin to free yourself.

For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing. Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never asking for anything in return.

Journal: React to this statement, and write about how it makes you feel.

Jack Watts   Recovery Resources

Read Full Post »


 

Father,

As the years progress,

I often hear people talk

About how much they trust You,

But their pronouncements seem like a fickle lover

With a self-serving agenda rather than a commitment.

Lacking substance or depth,

Their mellifluous affirmations seem to be

Pathetic and selfish, lacking substance.

Obviously, their loyalty has not been forged

By adversity and weathered by hardship.

Their trust seems shallow and juvenile,

Rather than strong, resilient and confident.

Believing that whining and demanding

Will gain Your favor instead of humility and agreement,

They come before You with hearts that are

Petulant and peevish, lacking gratitude.

I understand their perspective completely, Lord,

Having spent the decades of my life

Coming before You in precisely the same way,

Never understanding or admitting that

You know what is best for me better than I do,

And that You are God, and I am not.

Forgive my effrontery, Father. On my best day,

I am Your spoiled child, but Your child nonetheless.

I have foolishly thought that my way is better than Yours,

But it is not. Nevertheless, I have wanted My way,

Believing that when You have refused to grant it,

You were distant and detached—unloving and uncaring.

But I have been wrong about that—completely wrong,

Just like all of Your other immature children.

You do know what’s best for me and everybody else,

Regardless of what that might be.

As I bow my knee before You, let me say,

I am Yours to do with as You see fit.

After years of foolishness, I now understand my petulance.

I wish I had known it sooner,

But I lacked the maturity to do so.

Now, as wisdom has entered my heart,

I am led to acknowledge gratefully,

You give and take away;

You give and take away;

Blessed be Your name.

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


Refer to STEP 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track was mine and no one else’s.

“We must never allow anything to injure our relationship with God. If it does get injured, we must take time to put it right.”

—Oswald Chambers—

Like any relationship of value, it requires time and effort to repair your relationship with God when it becomes injured. This may seem obvious; but because of the pain and hurt associated with religious abuse, most choose to sweep all relational breaches under the rug, including their relationship with God—their “Divine dysfunction.”

Although this may appear to be the path of least resistance, it’s a poor idea and produces many self-defeating behaviors. Ignoring your relational problem with God doesn’t work, and it causes difficulties in nearly every area of life.

Neither does it work to say a flippant prayer either, thinking that such a trivial effort has merit. If you’ve offended your spouse, does it work to make a shallow apology?

Of course not; it’s the same with the Lord. If there’s a problem, you need to own up to it and make it right. Nothing else has any value nor is it honest. God’s grace may be all sufficient, but it certainly isn’t cheap—regardless of what some might say.

This is an important component of your recovery. It’s essential to take the time necessary to own up to your behavior, acknowledge your wrongdoing, and make appropriate changes in your life. Nothing short of this is effective, which you know is true. Concerning your relationship with God, take some time to reflect and be honest with yourself about what you see. If you do, the reward will be worth it.

Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


Father,

In my pain and anguish,

When my heart was broken,

And I thought darkness would overwhelm me,

I felt lost and all alone, but I wasn’t.

Despite how I felt, You were there with me,

Diligently working in my heart,

Stripping me of my pretense,

Stripping me of my arrogance,

Stripping me of my self-serving ways,

Each of which had made a wasteland of my life.

Although Your child, I had no concern or awareness

Of the direction You intended for me.

My only concern was relief from my discomfort,

But Your purpose was far greater than mine.

I thought my anguish would never end

And that I would not smile at the future again,

But I was wrong about that, as well.

I knew the desire of my heart

And asked You repeatedly to grant it,

But You never did, which still saddens me.

What I have gained through my loss, however,

Has had more value than I ever imagined.

Out of the abyss, You have raised me up,

Placed my feet on solid, immovable rock,

And strengthened me with power in

The inner man—at the center of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I’m resolute and confident.

Instead of apprehension, I am calm, strong, and sane.

And it’s all because You have changed my heart—

Transforming my perspective about what has value.

Without Your loving, consistent care,

I would never have learned my lessons

And would have been destined to repeat my mistakes

Over and over again, like an unreasoning animal

And not like a man—not like a child of the King.

To redeem what I had completely wasted,

You reached into the pit—into the mire

And emotional carnage of my life—

Redeeming my future by giving me hope.

 —Jack Watts

Read Full Post »


 

 

Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me as well as the power to carry it out.

 

I will live what I teach.

I will do what I say.

I will say what I mean.

I will be honest with others.

I will put what is best for others ahead of what is best for me.

I will be transparent and vulnerable.

—Recovery Aphorisms

For your recovery to have a real, substantial, and positive impact on others, it has to be based on attraction rather than promotion. This simple truth runs contrary to nearly everything Christians in America believe. In churches and ministries, the message is promoted far and wide. It’s a methodology that often works, but certainly not for everybody.

For those of us in recovery, including recovery from religious abuse, we don’t promote anything. It’s never an option or even a consideration, which is very freeing. Instead, we live our life simply and unaffectedly, helping all who ask—never seeking anything in return. As we progress in our recovery and our relationship with God deepens, each day we become a little more like the person God created us to be. This means we are patient rather than petulant, seek to be kind rather than self-serving, and enjoy others—never looking for ways to use or manipulate them.

As our lives demonstrate proven character qualities, we become increasingly attractive to others—not physically attractive but emotionally attractive. Because others recognize that we are “safe people,” our opportunities to help become endless.

We know that attraction works—long-term and consistently. Promotion rarely does. It’s like a fast food commercial for a hamburger. What you get never meets the standard of what you’ve been promised by the commercial.

Once someone works the 11 Steps and begins to live in the freedom of recovery, there will always be people who want and need help. That’s how the principle of attraction works; and you don’t need to learn any pious platitudes. All you have to do is be real and genuine, eschewing sanctimony like the plague.

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)

My Story

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He wishes.

I’m not going to give anybody free rent in my head.

—Recovery Slogan

In the aftermath of abuse, despair is an emotion that is always present, so are anger and bitterness. Each has its season in the heart of the abused person. For most victims, these debilitating emotions remain a part of their makeup for years.

The desire for self-vindication is also often present. Many abused people insist upon setting the record straight. They want to let everybody know the truth about “what really happened,” and they will not be content until they do. Although their insistence is understandable, it’s also why most fail to learn the lesson from their abuse the Lord wants to teach them.

When Christ entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He arrived as King. Less than a week later, He was murdered. He could have set the record straight on His own terms, but He chose to be obedient to the Father instead—a decision that changed the course of history. At the time, however, it seemed like a mistake, especially to His followers.

The same lesson is there for each of us, when abused by toxic religious leaders. Although our desire for self-vindication may be the most predominant desire in our lives, we must realize this: If we are to be raised up, it will be by the Lord’s hand and not by our own. Our insistence upon self-vindication will end in further anger, bitterness, and resentment—nothing else. Accepting this truth is difficult, but it’s a lesson each abused person needs to learn.

Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (I Peter 4:19)

My Story

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 4: I recognize that God is not the abuser; people who misuse their authority are the abusers.

 

Ambition is the ecclesiastical lust.

—Daniel Noonan

In modern day Christendom, the idea of being called to the ministry has undergone a change—at least for many. Because of this change, which at first is subtle in a person, the seeds of religious abusiveness find fertile ground.

In the early church and in the Scriptures, being called to the ministry meant a person was summoned to serve others, regardless of how those being served would respond. Because the person chosen was serving the Lord, while serving others, fulfillment came from being faithful to God without other worldly aspirations.

By the nature of the office, a minister is the servant of others, or, at least, that’s what the person is supposed to be. In this generation, however, being a servant is no longer the norm. It has flip-flopped. Now, in many instances, it is the minister who is served and not the other way around.

Because of the minister’s skill and calling, many of God’s chosen have been elevated to a class above those to whom they have been called to serve. This reversal of positions has become so entrenched that ministers have become celebrities, adored and venerated by their followers similar to public personalities. This transformation has become so accepted that few realize how far it has drifted from the original model.

Part of the problem is that the terminology hasn’t changed. Ministers still obsequiously refer to themselves as servants but, in their hearts, many are anything but. Often, their self-serving ways lead to abusiveness. When someone gets in their way, the offending person is castigated and discarded—maligned by “God’s servant.” This kind of treatment has become so routine that those who have been called to serve have been responsible for abusing millions of God’s sheep.

And when it came about that Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.” (Acts 10:25-26)

Jack Watts   Recovering from Religious Abuse

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 3: I accept that the responsibility for getting back on track is mine and no one else’s.

  

You desire to know the art of living, my friend? It is contained in one phrase: make use of suffering.

—Henri-Frederic Amiel

One of the greatest delusions in life is the belief that we control our own destiny. Everybody wants to believe that they do, whether Christian or not. But it simply isn’t true—as life teaches each of us repeatedly.

The concept of having control certainly isn’t a New Testament principle, and yet, we all want to believe our lives depend upon what we do or don’t do. We desire it so much we often demand that God performs exactly the way we want, being as demanding as a petulant four-year-old.

Like a good parent, God smiles and does what is best for us, based on His perspective—not ours.

At the same time, much of life has routine. Because of this, we become accustomed to having a measure of control over our day-to-day activities. This leads us to believe we actually do have control. Then, for whatever reason, something happens, which is completely beyond our comfort zone. And more often than not, it isn’t something we desire.

That’s when we become angry, blaming God for our unpleasant circumstances. Or, we can choose another response by renewing our minds, bending our knees, and acknowledging that God—in His sovereignty—has control over everything and we do not.

From my personal experience, this is one of the most difficult times in a person’s Christian life. I know that God is in control, but I still have a hard time admitting how little control over circumstances I have. Most Christians do.

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”  Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-17)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

Read Full Post »


Father,

I’m so grateful for all you have done,

So honored that you would love me,

And that You would be mindful of my needs.

On my best days, when I am peaceful—

When I am confident that You are in charge

And that I need not worry,

I know how blessed and safe I am.

Help me live like this each day.

Help me show others that You care

And that You are always available.

By my actions, allow people to see

That I have confidence in You;

That Your ways are always the best;

Always the wisest and most fruitful.

Teach me to not be boastful or arrogant.

Keep a prideful heart far from me,

Which would be such a poor witness,

Pushing those You care about away,

Rather than drawing them nearer to You.

Help me be mindful that whatever I do,

Good or bad, it is a reflection of who You are.

Jack Watts   My Story

Read Full Post »


Father,

As I learn to follow after You,

All I can do is listen to Your gentle voice,

Which is a whisper, guiding me toward my destiny.

Sometimes, I wish it were easier to be certain—

To know exactly where You are headed,

And what the outcome of my life will be,

But that’s not my role—not my lot in life.

My job is to be keen and vigilant,

As You move through each of life’s circumstances,

Always pointing me toward higher ground,

Always aiming toward the goal You have predetermined.

Journal: React to the statement above, either positively or negatively, and write about how your life validates your position.

I had to unlearn my grandiose mindset and become simple, which occurred once I was broken. When I was willing to accept my diminished importance in life with humility, I was finally able to enjoy it. It was at that point that my usefulness to God began—not before.

Journal: Write about how being abused has broken you, and what has come from it. If your abuse has been recent, write about what you want to come from it.

Learn to follow, and you will be dancing with the Star. If you insist on leading, you’re going to get your foot stepped on—a bunch. The next time you pray, try thinking of it like dancing, and learn to go with the flow.

Question: Are you a follower, or do you insist that God to follow your lead?

One of God’s promises says, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This is either true or it isn’t. If you can accept what God has said as true, you are on your way to renewing your mind and to recovery.

 

Question: Do you believe this statement is true or simply a noble idea? Have you learned to trust God at this level or not?

Many want God to be a constant, perpetual blessing machine. They want Him to indulge them with creature comforts as a sign that He loves them—as a sign that they are okay. Materialism and the acquisition of “things” validates their standing with God, providing positive proof that they are living life as it was meant to be lived.

Journal: Being rigorously honest, is this what you believe?Concerning creature comforts, write about what God wants for your life. On a scale of 1-to-10, how important is materialism to you. 

Recommended Recovery Resources

 

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 11: I make a commitment to nurture my relationship with the Lord, asking Him to reveal His will to me and to provide me with the power to carry it out.

 

We are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this, He will make us broken bread and poured-out wine to feed and nourish others.

—Oswald Chambers

Many people retreat to God because they don’t want to face challenges; they don’t want to muddle through life’s difficult situations. They want pat, simplistic answers for everything and a life free from conflict—free from the negative consequences, stemming from their poor decisions. They want a cosmic bailout.

They also want God to be a constant, perpetual blessing machine. They want Him to indulge them with creature comforts as a sign that He loves them—as a sign that they are favored. Materialism and the acquisition of “things” validates their standing with God, providing positive proof that they are living life as it was meant to be lived.

Churches validate this mindset routinely by elevating successful businessmen to leadership roles to the exclusion of all others—except for doctors and lawyers, of course. According to this way of thinking, above all else, God wants His people to enjoy creature comforts—lots of them, which success in business ensures.

Christians with this worldview give lip service to loving and caring for others, when in reality, their existence and purpose for life is all about themselves. In their superficiality, they believe they are profound, as they blissfully go about their lives doing whatever benefits them, with little care for others.

Pursuing an alternative purpose, which is at cross-purposes with materialism, never enters their mind. If it did, it would be no more than a fleeting thought—like the emotional response from watching an uplifting movie. It might touch them for a short while, but that’s all. It has no transforming impact. In their lethargy, Christians like these assume little responsibility for the state of the world or for the depraved condition of mankind—spiritually, morally, or materially. For your recovery to be long lasting, your must make caring for others part of your life—a substantial part.

Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 10: I choose to believe God still has a purpose for my life—a purpose for good and not evil.

  

We are not, however, a species that can choose the baggage with which we must travel. In spite of our best intentions, we always find that we have brought along a suitcase or two of darkness and despair.

—Dean Koontz

When a person is verbally abused, feelings of worthlessness and low self-esteem are inevitable. It just seems to come with the territory. These feelings are even more pronounced when the abuse originates from a spiritual or religious leader. That’s because the abused person’s relationship with God invariably comes into question. Essentially, the abuser either states or implies, “You’re ‘not okay,’ and because you’re not, your relationship with God is ‘not okay’ either.”

The devastation caused by the internalization of such a devaluation is incalculable. After receiving such an assault, the most difficult thing in the world is for the abused person to believe God still loves them. Such deflation produces feelings of hopelessness that are inevitable. In the back of the wounded person’s minds, he or she accepts what the abusive person has said as the truth, which makes these victims emotionally unable to believe the positive, validating message God has to say about them through Scriptural promises.

The role of a spiritual leader is to lead but, when someone uses that power destructively, that person still leads—just in a dysfunctional, destructive way.

This is why abused people need to work the 11 steps to recovery from religious abuse. Step 10 is specifically about renewing your mind to believe that God still has a plan for your life—a plan for good and not evil. No matter how devastated and defeated you may feel, the power to be a dynamic worthwhile person is still there, available for the asking. One of God’s promises says, “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

This is either true or it isn’t. If you can accept what God has said as true, then you are on your way to renewing your mind and a life of value. If you haven’t begun the renewal process, start today.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Romans 8:1-2)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

Read Full Post »


Refer to Step 4: I choose to believe what God says about Himself: that He is good and can be trusted.

Prayer may not change things for you, but it will change you for things.

—Vance Havner

Humans want to believe they have control of their own destinies. Barnes & Noble is filled with books that tell eager patrons how to make all of their dreams come true. Some of these books are very powerful but, unfortunately, they lead people to believe they are in control of the future, even if that’s not the author’s intent. It would be more accurate to say these books create an illusion of control—not the real thing.

God is in control—not us. Until we understand this, most of our prayers will have little value. We pray, “God, I want You to do this.” Or, we can be more spiritual and say, “God, please do this.” Somehow, we believe that by being deferential God will be impressed with our dictates and more inclined to grant our self-serving requests.

My experience with the way God operates has been a little different. I’ve learned that He wants us to understand who He is, trust His leadership, and allow Him to make choices for us.

This means prayer isn’t trying to get our way with Him. It’s more like getting to know our Heavenly Father better so that we can move effortlessly with Him, following His plan for our lives, which is always bountiful, rather than our own, which often leads to disaster.

If we were using a dancing analogy, we would be like the female, always following His lead. When we try to take the reins, our dance step is clumsy, disjointed, awkward, and often painful. When we follow, as we should, it’s graceful and elegant, always capturing the attention of onlookers. Learn to follow, and you will be dancing with the Star. If you insist on leading, you’re going to get your feet stepped on, suffering the consequences of your own willful leadership.

The next time you pray, try thinking of it like dancing, and learn to go with God’s flow.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Jack Watts   Recommended Resources

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »